FERPA Questions and Answers for Faculty and Staff

FERPA

The purpose of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is to provide students certain rights with respect to their student record and to protect the student’s right to privacy from the indiscriminate collection, maintenance, disclosure and release of personally identifiable student information, including information regarding student status or performance.

Who is covered under FERPA?

  • All current and past students who have attended SDSMT, either as a campus student, distance education, or taking part in a cooperative education program are covered by FERPA.
  • This does not include applicants who do not attend because their application was denied or the prospective student who was accepted and did not attend. (Try to do what is best, even if it is not required by law.)

The age of the student is not a factor. (Parents must provide proof that a student over 18 is a dependent on their income tax return to obtain student records or to talk to advisors or instructors about student progress.)


When does coverage begin and end?

  • Coverage begins the first day a student enrolls/registers in classes. The coverage of FERPA does not end until death. It is the policy of RAS to protect the privacy rights of students as much as possible.

How can exam scores be posted to protect the student’s right to privacy?

  • Grades may be posted only if the identity of the individual is completely disguised. Students may provide a code or the professor may assign one, but the list should not be published in alphabetic order. Papers or exams should not be returned to the student in such a way that grades may be seen by others.

What is directory information? (Updated and Revised 9/2010)

  • Each institution sets its own standards for directory information. At the School of Mines and Technology, the following is considered directory information and may be released: student’s name, grade level or academic status (undergraduate, graduate or professional school), graduation date, diploma or degree, major field of study, and dates of attendance.
  • Before giving out any information, please check on Colleague to see if the student has privacy invoked (BIO screen, Privacy field will have an “E” if privacy invoked). For those who get a student list from Debra Renken, there is a privacy column and the whole line is in RED print.

What do you do when you are asked for a student’s schedule?

  • Provide a student with a copy of his or her schedule upon the presentation of a photo ID or after the student has furnished sufficient information to establish identity.
  • Students can print a schedule from Web Advisor.
  • Third party requests for schedules are not honored unless the request falls within an emergency exception to FERPA, then please refer requestor to the RAS office or the Dean of Students’ Office.
  • Requests to locate a student are referred to the Dean of Students’ office. That office will get a message to the student.

Notice of FERPA rights to students.

  • A notice of FERPA rights is available on the SDSMT home page; posters are put up in dorms and the Surbeck Center; and an ad is put on the campus TV channel.

What access do parents have to their children’s education records?

  • Parents of college students have no inherent right to inspect their student’s records.
  • Records may be released to parents only under the following circumstances:
  • Written consent of the student; or
  • In compliance with a subpoena, or
  • By submission of evidence that the parents declare the student as a dependent on their most recent Federal Income Tax forms.

Student workers and FERPA

  • Student workers on campus are held to the same standards as university personnel when dealing with student information. Emphasize to student workers that any student information should be considered confidential and should not be shared with anyone. A form is available for students to sign, indicating their acceptance of privacy of student information.

What about letters of recommendation?

  • Statements made from the recommender’s personal observation or knowledge of the student do not require a written consent.
  • If personally identifiable information obtained from the student’s education records is included, such as grades, GPA, etc., the writer is required to obtain a signed release from the student. The release should specify the records to be disclosed, the purpose of the disclosure and to whom disclosed.

Request to prevent disclosure form.

  • Students may request that no information about them be released without their consent. Forms are available at the RAS office and on-line for this purpose.
Questions

If you are uncertain whether a request involves FERPA rights, please contact Barb Dolan (2400) in the RAS office in the O’Harra Building.

Contact: SDSM&T Registrar and Academic Services